As a general rule, if discussions breakdown or a reasonable offer of settlement is never extended by an insurance company in the first instance, the only option available is litigation.
There are few things as frustrating as been treated objectively unfairly. There are not many events that can frustrate and inflame a person more than another failing to recognize and give credence to their position. When you add to the mix that the person being mistreated has been physically harmed, and may be in dire financial straits, the sense of injustice becomes magnified. Litigation may be your only recourse.
There are three things that you need to know about the litigation process.
- What's involved in litigation
- What are the statutes of limitations or other time-sensitive requirements
- The need to hire an experienced personal injury litigator
“Litigation”, in general terms, is the legal process that follows one party filing a claim in a court of law against another party. This filing typically claims a legal wrong [like negligence] and damages.
In the arena of personal injury, in the context of a motor vehicle accident claim, this would involve a person injured in an accident caused by another suing that other at-fault person commencing with the filing of a lawsuit. The person being sued- in a perfect world- gives the suit papers with which they are served to their insurance company who then hires or appoints a lawyer to defend them. In the arena of a dispute with your own insurance company, frequently called first-party disputes, the process is similar. If your insurance company denies your claim or makes an unreasonably ridiculous settlement offer, you would file a suit directly against your own insurance company alleging a breach of contract. In egregious situations, there may be the additional remedy of pursuing an administrative bad faith action. The steps in litigation are, broadly speaking: discovery, pretrial motions and conferences, and ultimately -trial. Litigation can be expensive and lengthy. You should discuss the anticipated timeframes and costs of litigating your personal injury matter with the attorney of your choosing.
The statute of limitations in Maryland for bringing a personal injury action is three years from the date of loss. Many surrounding jurisdictions employ shorter periods. If a legal claim is not filed in a court of law before the expiration of the statute of it is barred forever. Moreover, in some instances, a personal injury requires that a specific entity -usually a governmental actor-be placed on notice well in advance of the running of the statute of limitations. Here again, if notice is not given in the appropriate forum at the appropriate time, the claim may be forever barred.
I may or may not be obvious from the two preceding sections that hiring a personal injury attorney to handle your litigation is very possibly the best course of action. While it is certainly true that you can represent yourself in court, it is also true that: you can file your own taxes, repair your own plumbing, or work on your own car. Some laypeople certainly have the knowledge or background, training, and experience to perform those tasks reasonably well, even if they don’t do it for a living. Other individuals, who do not have a background in tax preparation, in plumbing repair, or possess automotive mechanics skills, choose to hire an experienced, seasoned professional to perform that work. The analogy is directly applicable to someone with a legal claim. That person may well be versed in the law, with sufficient knowledge and sufficiently possessed of an understanding of the rules of procedure and evidence to be able to successfully argue their case in front of the judge or jury. Most people do not. If you have to pursue litigation, you need a litigator.
I've spent the better part of a 25 year career battling insurance companies, to ensure fair compensation for those I represent. I'd be happy to take a complimentary look at your claim and offer my opinions and advice. Feel free to contact me today to schedule a discussion.